Have you heard the one about the three rabbis that walked into a bar? One was Orthodox, one Conservative and the other, you guessed it, Reform … (the overwhelming sound of crickets). Of course you haven’t, because it would never happen. Which brings me to the point of my article.
Why is it that we as Jews allow such disparity to exist within our midst? We are so seemingly critical of one another and openly so, thus creating a visible rift for all to see.
Before I go further, I do want to reflect on the words of a very dear and very wise friend, who remarked to me as we were discussing this article, that there always will be exceptions and rarely are things only “black and white.” Indeed as she so eloquently reminded me, “a Modern Orthodox rabbi might socialize with a Conservative rabbi, as might a Conservative rabbi socialize with a Reform rabbi.” That is certainly true and I do want to thank her for her very thoughtful insight.
That being said … the world outside is an exceedingly dangerous place and it grows more so, with every sweep of the second hand on the clock. While Israel may indeed be an oasis in among the surrounding Middle East sand, the very real fact exists that trouble is literally around the proverbial next corner.
Anti-Semitism is rampant in Western Europe and is in fact boiling over in several nations as I write this piece. Greece is a nation gripped by the claws of overt Nazism. France is becoming less and less safe for our fellow Jews as the senseless beatings and murders continue unabated, which harkens back to the days of WWII and the Vichy period. Spain has seemingly no tolerance for Jews among their people as evidenced by their recently tweeted messages of abject hate over a loss at a sporting event, and despite their governments overtures towards reconciliation.
The sands around Israel swirl without abatement and become more foreboding every day. The notion of an ISIS controlled Iraq and Syria looms as does the establishment of terrorist training camps within their borders. Iran and its puppet Hamas will never let up as the rockets continue to fly into southern Israel. They both want us gone from the face of the earth and have made it public knowledge. It is an undeniable fact.
The BDS movement continues on manifesting most overtly in both the entertainment world and academia. The “darlings” of the uninformed world are relentless in their demands. Why anyone listens, is truly beyond me. Palestine is a fiction. There is no distinct Palestinian culture and no distinct Palestinian language. The Arabs that reside in Gaza are of Egyptian descent. The Arabs that reside in Judea and Samaria or the West Bank are of Jordanian descent. And the Arabs that reside in East Jerusalem are also of Jordanian descent. Why is there no blood lust to return to their respective homelands, Egypt and Jordan? Why has no sovereign Arab nation offered to carve out a piece of real estate and provide them with a home? These are serious questions that require serious answers. Yet, no answers are forthcoming.
With all that is going on around us, we as Jews need to stand as ONE united, tolerant of each other’s permutations and divergences from that which is deemed traditional. There is a place for us all and we need to come to grips with that distinct fact. The Ashkenazim needs to embrace the Sephardim and accept that we are indeed kin under the same G-d. Those deemed culturally Jewish, but not practicing need to be enticed to come back into the fold. Our many diverse streams need to come together as one mighty river.
Our “Jewnity” will keep us strong in the eyes of those that seek to oppress. The Diaspora needs to be one with the State. We must be each others pillar of strength and in turn be the backbone of our Jewish State. We are now blessed with an exceedingly strong military that has proven itself continually. We will fight and not turn our cheek. Those days are gone, long gone. So, as I began, let’s all join together and make that as yet non-existant Jewish joke that was suggested at the beginning of this article, a genuine reality.
Am Yisra’el Chai